Housing Element Updates

The Housing Element is a required element of General Plans. It is a comprehensive policy document the identifies the where, the how, and the cost of housing needs. The document facilitates planning for the accommodation of existing housing needs and projected future housing needs for people of all income levels. In accordance with State law, Housing Elements must be updated every eight years.

EMC Planning Group assists public sector clients navigate the 6th and 7th Cycle Housing Element update certification process in compliance with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). We invite jurisdictions to proactively work with us ahead of mandatory state deadlines to give your community as much time as possible to engage in the process. EMC Planning Group has prepared housing element updates for cities and towns throughout Northern and Central California including Greenfield, Sand City, San Juan Bautista, and Atwater.  Our firm has worked on housing element updates for the Town Los Gatos, the cities of Belvedere, Larkspur, Monte Sereno, Sand City, Newman, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Ceres, and the county of Santa Cruz.

The Housing Element Process: Milestone Tasks

Housing Element updates must include, at a minimum, the following sections:

  • An analysis of housing needs based on population;
  • An inventory of housing sites to accommodate future growth;
  • An analysis of housing constraints that impact housing production;
  • Programs that implement housing policies; and
  • Actions that promote further fair housing opportunities.

The Housing Element Update process is comprised of the following milestone tasks:

  • Sites Inventory – current opportunity sites plus new sites will be considered in order to meet existing and future housing needs.
  • Housing Element – programs, policies, and possible zoning changes to accommodate the City’s RHNA will be considered and drafted for an element that would be certified as meeting state law requirements by HCD.
  • Consistency with General Plan – preparing General Plan updates/revisions to ensure consistency with the Housing Element.
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – any update to the General Plan requires some amount of environmental review and it will be determined as soon as possible whether the Housing Element update actions will require a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or an Initial Study.
The Importance of AB 686

To combat a history of racial housing discrimination, segregation, and unequal access to opportunity, the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. The Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status. However, in the nearly 50 years since the Fair Housing Act was enacted, housing inequality, lack of access to opportunity, and racial and socio-economic segregation have persisted. The passing of AB 686 in 2018 attempts to address these persistent inequities. 

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Santa Cruz County